Rapid Response Process


Step 1: RPC Receives a Request from an Office.


When government offices request information from the Research-to-Policy Collaboration, the requests are sent out to researchers in the Rapid Response Network. 

Examples of requests include (but are not limited to) helping understand the background of an issue, identifying where additional research on an issue is needed, or how an issue is playing out in the field. 

Responses from researchers in the network are compiled to help address the offices’ needs. Sometimes researchers respond to these requests with specific research articles or their professional experiences and insights while other times researchers will engage with RPC directly in drafting a fact sheet, op-ed, policy brief, or blog post to help communicate science for decision-makers.  

Step 2: RPC Identifies and Recruits Researchers with Related Experiences.


After receiving a request, RPC identifies researchers with related expertise to request their support. Although we attempt to match closely on topic areas, sometimes we send researchers requests that are not exactly relevant to them just due to the limitations of the experience areas we have information on.

  • We start this process reaching out to researchers who are already involved in our network. In the rare cases in which we do not have many researchers on a highly specific topic, RPC may recruit researchers with additional expertise. 

Selected researchers are sent the request, asking for their insights (often by a given date aligned with offices’ timelines).  

Step 3: Researchers Respond to Request.


The researchers who received the request then respond to the questions posed. This can include writing a summary of the relevant research, sending links to resources in the grey literature, sending attachments of articles, or sharing the contact information for someone who may be interested in contributing to the topic. 

The pace of responses depends on the urgency of the issue or request.  

  • Some information requests align with predictable, long-term timelines, where the network engages with researchers for an extended period of time in order to put together a response, review, edit, and finalize materials in a collaborative fashion.  
  • Other information requests are on issues that may require a fast-paced response. To ensure the response is timely and useful for the offices, there may be fewer or shorter opportunities for researchers to provide and review finalized materials.

Authorship and citation:

  • The names of contributors from the network can be listed on response documents so members can receive recognition for their contributions. Such recognition can showcase researchers’ community-engaged scholarship and strengthen academic portfolios.

Step 4: Researcher Responses are Compiled, Organized, and Summarized.


RPC staff and trainees organize the information that researchers provided in Step 3 into a succinct fact sheet, resource list, or other product.

Step 5: Share Rapid Response Product with Relevant Offices.


After information is compiled through the Rapid Response process, RPC staff shares the information with the office(s) that requested it, and other interested offices when similar questions are asked. 

The RPC team may follow up with the office to discuss a topic. When there is a strong fit between a researcher’s expertise and an office’s needs, researchers may be asked to join a meeting to provide insights with RPC team members there to support.. These meetings are often no more than 30 minutes. 

The resource might prompt more questions for the office, or the office might have entirely new questions. At that point, the cycle repeats at step 1.